The Red Book

On the Moscow Trials

(“Remove Stalin”)

During the trial as during the investigation, the official and unofficial accusers (i.e., the accused) used with particular insistence the expression: “Stalin must be removed.” During the investigation this formula was used as amorphous pig-iron, from which one might make a club, but from which one might also make nothing at all. Does it mean to “remove” him legally, on the basis of party statutes and at the party congress, whose business it is to reelect or to replace the General Secretary, – or in some other manner, “illegally”? This question is carefully left in the shadows at the beginning of the inquiry. There it will become apparent. As long as the accused have not been broken for good, all that is torn from them is the confession of having the intention to “remove” Stalin, to remove, i.e., to replace. Then as if by chance, they are ordered to confess that they are for “extreme methods.” The rest is clear: the two declarations are combined and when the accused is definitively broken, the investigating judge lays down his hand. The extreme methods become “terror;” to “remove” becomes synonymous with to kill. And what at first sight was amorphous pig-iron has sharpened to become a deadly weapon. In the court, the formula “to remove Stalin” appears with its new meaning: to remove means “to kill.” [45]

But why have Stalin and his accomplices become so obsessed with this expression? Where did they first come up with it? In his statement, Vyshinsky gives us some explanation of this: “In March 1932, in a fit of counterrevolutionary anger, Trotsky published an open letter with the call to ‘remove Stalin’ (this letter was discovered in the secret lining of a suitcase belonging to Holtzman and added to the dossier as material evidence.)” Olberg also mentions this, testifying that: “Sedov spoke to me for the first time about my trip to the USSR following Trotsky’s appeal which was written after he had been deprived of his Soviet citizenship. Trotsky, in this appeal, put forward the idea that it was necessary to assassinate Stalin. This thought is expressed in the following words: ‘It is necessary to remove Stalin.’ After having shown me the typewritten text of this appeal, Sedov said to me: ‘Well, you see now that it cannot be said more clearly. This is a diplomatic formulation.’”

We thus learn that we are dealing with an open letter which Trotsky wrote in March 1932, on the occasion of the revocation of his Soviet citizenship. Vyshinsky doesn’t find it necessary to quote such an important document, although the letter was “added to the dossier as material evidence.”

Why? We shall soon find out. Trotsky’s “call” for the assassination of Stalin is nothing other than the open letter of Trotsky to the Praesidium of the Central Executive Committee, that is, to Kalinin, Petrovsky, and others, published at one time in the Bulletin of the Opposition [46] and in all the other publications of the Left Opposition. It is to Kalinin and Petrovsky that Trotsky transmits – through the press! – the instruction to assassinate Stalin.

What a sensation! And why is Kalinin not among the defendants? Or hasn’t his turn come yet?

Here is the extract from this “open letter” which interests us:

Stalin has led us to an impasse. There is no way out except the liquidation of Stalinism. One must have confidence in the working class, one must give the proletarian vanguard the possibility by means of free criticism, to reexamine from top to bottom the whole Soviet system, to pitilessly purify it of all the accumulated rubbish. One must, finally, carry out the last urgent advice of Lenin: remove Stalin. (Bulletin of the Opposition, No.29, March 1932)

Now we understand why Vyshinsky does not quote the document [47] which was so important for laying the foundations of “terror”! If Vyshinsky had quoted the whole sentence, the sensation would have been even greater. Not only does Trotsky call for removing – “assassinating” – Stalin, but what’s more he quotes Lenin!

It thus turns out that the one who laid the foundations of terrorism and who was the first terrorist, was Lenin, and not Trotsky.

The “last urgent advice of Lenin,” is his famous Testament. Let us recall what Lenin wrote in it:

Comrade Stalin, having become General Secretary, has concentrated in his hands an immense power and I am not convinced that he always knows how to use it with sufficient caution.

Stalin is too rude and this fault, entirely tolerable in our midst and in relations between us communists becomes intolerable in the position of General Secretary. This is why I propose to the comrades that they reflect on ways of removing Stalin from this post and naming in his place a man who, in all respects, will distinguish himself from Cde. Stalin in only one way, that is, one who would be more patient, more loyal, more polite and more attentive toward his comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may seem an insignificant trifle, but I think that from the point of view of preventing a split, and from the point of view of what I have written above about the mutual relations between Stalin and Trotsky, it is not a trifle, or else it is trifle which can acquire decisive importance. January 4, 1923 [48]

To remove Stalin – or more crudely put: kick him out – from the post of General Secretary, that is what Lenin proposed in his Testament. Here are the sources of “terrorism,” which Vyshinsky so wisely doesn’t mention!

Since its formation, the Left Opposition has demanded the fulfillment of Lenin’s Testament in hundreds of articles, documents, tracts, in its platform, in the articles of the Bulletin of the Opposition and, finally, in Trotsky’s Open Letter to the Central Executive Committee (on the occasion of one of Stalin’s more minor and preparatory amalgams – depriving Trotsky of his Soviet citizenship). And this letter was written four and a half years ago. Why didn’t Stalin dare to attribute terrorist intentions to Trotsky then? Because Stalin needed time to prepare the ground for his poisonous slanders.

Remove (kick out!) Stalin meant, according to Lenin’s thinking, to take away the immense power that he had concentrated in his hands since becoming head of the apparatus. That meant depriving him of the possibility of abusing this power.

When Lenin was writing his Testament, he was far from being able to imagine just how far Stalin’s abuse of power would go. Yes, if Lenin were alive, he would not only be in prison (“Lenin was only saved from prison by his death,” said Krupskaya in 1926), but he would have been declared the first and foremost terrorist!

Such is Stalin’s belated revenge – thirteen years later – for Lenin’s Testament, Stalin’s revenge against Lenin. It took the gravedigger of the revolution, Stalin, thirteen years to crush Bolshevism and to turn the greatest of all revolutions into the corrupt Bonapartist regime which now rules in the USSR.


[45] This emerges especially clearly in Ter-Vaganian’s testimony. (L.S.)

[46] Although the “Letter” was published, Sedov is supposed to have shown Olberg a “typewritten” copy. Olberg needed this story to give the thing a mysterious and conspiratorial character. What pathetic nourishes! (L.S.)

[47] It seems that only Kerensky swallowed this bait: “One document – he says – in any case exists – and of no small significance. Vyshinsky uttered (0!) one sentence which no one (no one, with the exception, it goes without saying, of Kerensky) noticed.” Then follows the above mentioned quotation from Vyshinky’s speech. (L.S.)

[48] The September 1936 issue of The Bolshevik, organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, reports Lenin’s Testament in the following words: “Stalin, whom the dying Lenin put at the head of the party!” (L.S.)

Last updated on: 13.2.2005